How to Survive a Rattlesnake Encounter
Snakes suck. There is a reason that Indiana Jones hates them. The best rattlesnake is the one that doesn’t strike at you. There are several conscious steps you can take to avoid a rattlesnake. Additionally, read below to learn the best way to survive getting bit by a rattlesnake.
Rattlesnakes live in hot dry climates where they are especially prevalent in the Southwest including states such as California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas amongst others. As they are cold-blooded, they tend to bathe in the sun to soak up the heat.
Know when and where they gather
They are most likely to be out in the mid mornings before the heat of the day or the early evenings as the heat starts to dissipate. The temperatures that they are most likely to be out on trails is between 70° to 90ish°F. They still come out even at
Most rattlesnakes are not out on open trails as this leaves them vulnerable to attack by other predators. They may pass through trails but are more comfortable in rocks, brush or shrubs; essentially any nook they can find. Rattlesnakes tend to blend in with their environment and are not easy to spot, which can sometimes lead to them getting stepped on. Do not wander off the trails in these brushy areas as they can be hiding anywhere. I have encountered at the least 50 rattlesnakes this way, and honestly been struck several times.
It’s too late, you wandered off the trail or encountered one on your path, what do they look like? When trying to classify the type of snake you ran into, look for the following characteristics.
- A flat, triangular-shaped head
- Openings between the nostrils and eyes — these are the heat-sensing pits
- Coloration — generally tan and brown patchwork; the Mohave rattlesnake is green, however, and has light bands at its tail end. If you can see these bands with the naked eye, you are probably too close.
- Rattles duh. However, the baby rattlesnakes may not have much formed to their rattle as they are not fully developed.
Odds are if they strike, you either ran into them suddenly, or you’re an idiot who got way to close and got bit. Survival of the fittest applies to you in you’re case. For the rest of us, survival of the smartest starts by wearing boots so they do not connect with your ankle. The vast majority of strikes occur on your feet and ankles, or your hands. Boots can provide a layer of protection from bites. If you have them, wear them. Additionally, wear long loose pants as tight pants make it easy for snakes to know exactly how far to strike before clamping down. Loose pants often make the snake misjudge the distance, but don’t rely on it.
Better Safe than Sorry Tips
- Always hike with a friend who can help you in case the worst occurs.
- Look under rocks, logs, etc. before sitting down.
- Don’t wander off trails
- Leave them alone. The only person who will get hurt is you trying to make the world a better place.
- If you make them mad, you become their target as it functions as a defense mechanism.
- Rattlesnakes jump half of their body length, but they can also perform successive jumps rapidly. You don’t have a tape measure out in the wild keep your distance.
- Baby rattlesnakes can’t control their venom and either unleash exorbitant amounts or sometimes nothing at all.
- Strikes are faster than the human eye can register, you won’t dodge it.
Good luck sleeping tonight.
Surviving a Bite
You didn’t listen to any of our advice and now you’re bit.
- Get help. Try to call emergency services such as a paramedic or the emergency room and get the attention of another hiker.
- Remain calm. Panicking increases your heart rate which will cause the venom to spread more rapidly.
- While your waiting, call the National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) for advice.
- Take a picture or analyze what the snake looks like. The venom spreads quickly and emergency services can get you treated the right way faster if they know what bit you.
- When moving away from the snake, don’t go too far as traveling causes the venom to circulate faster.
- Don’t apply a tourniquet, but do keep the area below your heart. This slows the travel speed of the venom.
- Clean the wound as best as you can, but don’t flush it with water. Take a clean cloth soaked in water and clean the wound gently but as thoroughly as possible. When the wound is clean, cover it with a clean cloth.
- Avoid steps such as sucking out the venom, don’t apply a tourniquet or ice, avoid drinking coffee or alcohol as it increases your heart rate,